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9 Experiences You Can't Miss in Perthshire

Only an hour and a half north of Edinburgh, Perthshire is Scotland at its very best. This is ‘Big Tree Country’, with lush forests full of wildlife, sparkling rivers teeming with salmon, and epic mountains like Schiehallion proving a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.

On top of its natural wonders, Perthshire is home to grand castles, vibrant towns, world-renowned whisky distilleries, and some of the country’s finest food and drink.

With 15 years’ experience arranging self-drive holidays in Scotland, Perthshire is firmly on our must-see list for anybody visiting our country. Although you could spend a week here and barely scratch the surface, here are some of our favourite experiences to get you started.

1 - Step into Scottish History

Traditionally a meeting place between the Highlands and Lowlands, Perthshire has punched above its weight in shaping Scotland’s history.

The Scottish Crannog Centre in Kenmore allows you to travel back to the Iron Age to see how some of Scotland’s earliest settlers lived. Incredibly, their homes (or ‘crannogs’) were timber-built roundhouses supported on stilts driven into the loch bed. Talk about rooms with a view!

 
 
 
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In the 9th century, the Perthshire village of Dunkeld was named the very first capital of the newly-created Kingdom of Scotland (at that time known as 'Alba').

A wander around the magnificent ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral on the banks of the River Tay gives you an idea of the historical significance of this small village.

 
 
 
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Further south you will find Scone Palace - the traditional crowning place of Scotland’s monarchs and home of the ‘Stone of Destiny’ - while north of Pitlochry is grand Blair Castle nestling among spectacular scenery.

This is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl - one of Scotland's most powerful families and still the commander of Europe's only legal private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

 
 
 
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Those with an interest in history can’t miss the wooded gorge at Killiecrankie - not only a highly impressive natural wonder, but also the site of one of the goriest battles in Jacobite history in 1689.

 
 
 
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2 - Hop Aboard a Highland Safari

Perthshire is renowned for its wildlife and even has its very own ‘big five’; ospreys, beavers, red deer, red squirrels, and golden eagles.

For your best chance to see them, hop on a land rover tour with the excellent Aberfeldy-based Highland Safaris, whose kilted guides will provide a fascinating locals' insight into the area and its wildlife as you travel through glorious countryside.

 
 
 
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3 - Visit a Tiny Whisky Distillery

Hidden in a tiny village north of Pitlochry, Edradour is one of the smallest whisky distilleries in Scotland, with production overseen by just three men. The distillery's output is just 12 barrels per week, and in their own words: “Edradour single malt is a rare pleasure for a fortunate few!”.

A guided tour of the distillery offers an intriguing insight into the traditional methods of whisky-making, and includes the obligatory dram.

 
 
 
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4 - Dress the Part

To blend in with the Perthshire gentry make a beeline for the House of Bruar - 10 miles north of Pitlochry. The ‘Harrods of the North’ provides everything from Harris tweed suits and designer knitwear to handcrafted homeware and local food and drink. The high-quality produce comes at a price, but it’s a great place to pick up something special.

If you’d rather give your wallet a rest, follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns and Queen Victoria by taking a walk to the nearby Falls of Bruar - an impressive gorge and waterfall. As they say, sometimes the best things in life are free.

 
 
 
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5 - Sauna with a View

If the weather takes a turn for the worse, head for Taymouth Marina to warm up. Not only is the ‘Hot Box’ one of Britain's largest saunas, stretching some 40 feet, but it also boasts panoramic views across the loch and the hills.

If you’re brave enough, take a cooling dip in Loch Tay afterwards!

 
 
 
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6 - Explore Big Tree Country

You’ll find some of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet dotted around Perthshire’s 200,000 acres of woodland. The opportunities for walking here are endless, with the Rob Roy Way and Cateran Trail long-distance walking routes being the ultimate way to immerse yourself in the countryside.

For a fantastic shorter walk, check out The Hermitage near Dunkeld - an easy circular route along the River Braan. This is full of surprises: Look out for Ossian's Hall folly overlooking the Black Linn Waterfall, a Totem Pole carved by a native Canadian from the Squamish Nation, and a Douglas Fir which has the status of being one of Britain's tallest trees.

 
 
 
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7 - Tap Into Local Beers

The Moulin Inn – originally a coach house dating back to 1695 - can be considered one of Scotland’s first microbreweries. In 1995 the owners went back to these historical roots by reopening the brewery, which now produces excellent real ales such as Braveheart and Old Remedial.

Entering the inn itself is like stepping back in time, with cosy fireplaces, exposed stone walls, and beams from the old stables - the perfect place to while away a rainy day.

 
 
 
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8 - A View Fit For a Queen

Queen Victoria’s long love affair with Scotland began with visits to Blair Castle as a guest of the Duke of Atholl, which later inspired her and Prince Albert to purchase Balmoral.

For an idea of why she was so taken with Perthshire, head to Queen's View - an iconic viewpoint across Loch Tummel. Queen Victoria is said to have remarked that the spectacular view was named after her when she visited the area in 1866, however, it was in fact named after Isabella, the wife of King Robert the Bruce, who visited 550 years earlier.

 
 
 
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9 - Fall for Autumn Colours

If you're lucky enough to visit Perthshire during Autumn you'll see the region burst into a spectacular array of reds, oranges and golds.

For a superb vantage point, take a stroll across the bridge over the River Garry - a couple of miles north of Pitlochry - where you’ll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colours. Instagram gold - quite literally!

 
 
 
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Deserving far more than a quick stop between the Lowlands and Highlands, Perthshire should be the focal point for a holiday for anybody who loves history, good food, and the great outdoors.

With a superb choice of accommodation, including 5* castle hotels and boutique B&Bs, you can stay in comfort while exploring one of Scotland’s most wonderful regions. If it's good enough for Queen Victoria ...

Scott Smyth
P.S. Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in self-drive holidays in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job - we know exactly where to find the best accommodation, the best food and drink experiences, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one. Send us an enquiry now and start planning your Absolute Escape.


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